Archive for April, 2009




Well, it looks as if Melchior will be staying. So far, my wee posters have only resulted in one prank phone call from some hysterically giggling girls, one of which yelled “sprichst du deutsch durch dein Arschloch?!” (do you speak German through your asshole) when I asked them to speak a little more clearly. Kids don’t enunciate in German either — it’s not just British kids that find this an impossible task — and it doesn’t help when it’s an Austrian version with a Turkish accent. This piece of eloquence was indeed all I was able to decipher, apart from the word “Puppe” (puppet/doll) as it was very clearly pronounced indeed.

I’m on the verge of leaving on an “emergency” trip to London. Cleo is crowding my mechanic’s space, and I have to move her. That means a one-way flight to London and a looooong drive back. It is likely to be my very last drive in her as she will then go on sale over here. Sadly, she is too much of a drain on my unimpressive income, and I hope to find her some wealthy parents that will love and care for her for a long time. Thomas is coming with me; I don’t dare make that journey without someone who knows about engines.

Wish me luck. Not so much with the trip as with the packing. My head is not what it should be and I just realised that I have forgotten to print out the flight ticket. Hang on… (did you know there is something called “the Mistletoe Marble Moth”? just heard it on Radio 4 — might come in useful in a pub quiz) … printing — done! Now, where is my passport, and my driving licence and SHIT! I have forgotten to renew the insurance! Bugger… hang on —– done! what would I do without the Internet??

As for the driving licence: The EU introduced a handy credit card sized licence a few years ago. In the UK, up until then, the licence consisted of a sheet of paper you had to fold up and carry with you, and it had  no picture. And it tended to end up looking like a worn out wad of toilet paper before long. When the EU version was introduced, instead of replacing the useless paper licence, it was ADDED as a handy extra… in order to make the EU version valid in the UK, you still have to carry your wad of toilet paper around with you. And that is why I panicked about the driving licence. I carry the card version in my wallet, but the HUGE wad of toilet paper is so ungainly I normally keep it filed away with other ungainly documents. But I need it over there or I will be in serious trouble with the bobbies and we all know how they kill demonstrators, now, don’t we? You never know what they would do to someone not carrying wads of toilet paper in their wallets. (I have actually never experienced UK police as anything other than helpful myself, they even let me go with a warning after I was caught speeding on my way to work on a Saturday morning.)

Update on Melchior: Just as I thought I was going to keep him I received a call from owner + mum. As I’m on the verge of taking off to London we agreed that he would be staying with me until Wednesday when I will meet them in the park to hand him back to his rightful owner. I promised I would tell him that she misses him but that they will see each other again soon.

For his traumatic temporary homelessness I am thinking that I may take him to London with me to distract him while he waits for his reunion. I didn’t catch his real name (something with Affe which means ape) so for now he will remain Melchior to me. Obscurely, his owner and I had no problems understanding each other, something which makes me draw the conclusion that there is a certain age, sort of around -teen, where language is too complicated to be treated as other than mulch while their hormones go rampant.

I feel better after all this rambling. It helped get my mind off the packing, the mad search for the car radio, the slight hysteria over the counterpart toilet paper driving licence, the meltdown over the forgotten insurance cover, the disgust at finding a tick on Mischa’s neck (it is now DEAD! and Mischa has been given a new round of tick treatment) the… I forget. And that is a good place to be. Now I just have to complete the zillion spreadsheet lists I have been preparing for our conference (people are as difficult to sort out on paper as in real life) in less than two weeks (DON’T PANIC!) and then rush home and put all the mess I threw in the direction of my suitcase last night actually into the suitcase. Together with an unknown quantity of dog-hair which should suitably confuse the forensics if I get killed while in the UK.

See? My mind really has gone totally overboard.

Have a nice weekend.


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Lost and found

Today was marathon day in Vienna. Lots of roads were closed off effectively paralysing the city’s transport system and most people’s attempts at getting anywhere. Don’t get me wrong! I am all for marathons and other sports. Spiffing stuff, I’m sure. I’m just not terribly interested. It’s a side-effect of growing up with a father who watched everything labelled “sport” with the compulsion of a cat watching a fly, whether any sensible person would agree to the term or not. Followed by Kevin, who, though he doesn’t think that synchronised swimming is a sport, can rival dad for sports fanaticism with ease.

I took Mischa for a walk to the park — Auer-Welsbach-Park — at the end of Mariahilfer Strasse. On the way there we admired all the sweating people and their very varying running styles, including a lady in her mid-50s wearing a complete bright red Dirndl. And a man blowing a big horn at regular intervals. I wonder how long he kept that going.

Though one is not supposed to, everyone let their dogs off the lead and let them run around playing in one part of the park, and Mischa just loves it being a naturally sociable dog. Today I was being eaten alive by a zillion insects while working on a sunburn, and Mischa greeted every dog he had energy for before collapsing in a heap in the shadow of some trees.

On the way back home I found this:


Melchior. Ok, so I have no idea what his name is. To me he is a Melchior.

He has a little pull ring underneath you can pull out to wind the little “Glockenspiel” mechanism and plays one of those little tunes that I remember from my own childhood. I immediately thought: “a small child is crying its little heart out right now because it’s lost its best friend…” I know just how sentimental I was about inanimate objects myself as a kid, and I still have my very first cuddly toy; a (formerly) pink and (formerly) white cat I called Siri. So as soon as we got home I took this photo of him and made a small A4 poster which I later went back to the park and posted on a couple of the playgrounds and on a tree where I found him. For some reason, Louise thinks this is an endearing trait in me.

I hope the parents see one of the notices and that tonight will not be too sleepless for them. Actually, I’m halfway hoping noboy sees them and that I get to keep him. It’s something I do; rescue cuddly animals from the street. I have a wide windowsill full of rescued cuddly toys that were never reclaimed in spite of my elaborately created and printed posters put up at the point of rescue. No, this was not the first time. Mostly they remain in my possession, only once did I receive a relieved phone call from a dad who brought his distraught and teary daughter of three to reclaim her teddy. She immediately proceeded to punish him after the initial intense hug, turning him over and slapping his little butt while exclaiming “don’t you evah do dat agin! I was so wowwied about you!”

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Had the best experience last night. Thomas took me to an Al Jarreau concert. The god of the best music ever was performing in Stadthalle, and I got to be there! I admit it; I was like a five-year-old before Christmas morning and — it was amazing! I’ve wanted to go to one of his concerts since I first heard him when I was about ten or twelve — really have no idea here, but we’re talking about thirty years of being a closet groupie. His music always makes me smile and I have the best memories from listening to his music at various times.

One memory which will never leave me was the summer when I was seventeen and had recently returned to Norway after a year as a foreign exchange student in Texas. I was lucky to come home to a wonderful group of tap and jazz dancers (actually, we danced whatever came our way; classical, jazz, modern and tap, but it was the tap dancing that was the main thing for us, and to add to our repertoire we also sang together, with Jenny Wagstaff as our tap dance and singing guru). Do I remember all the names? Ingrid, Vibeke, Øyvind, Petter, Arlene, Henning, Toni, Gyrid, Kjersti… there were more that came and went, but that is the core.

My parents spent a lot of time travelling and I had the house to myself most of the time. Or rather, WE had the house and so, that summer of seventeen, we had a round-the-clock full house of dancers, singers, PERFORMERS, who slept and ate and sang and danced together. And on slow, lazy mornings when we were all there, waking up in various parts of the house, I would put on Al Jarreau’s Mornin’ followed by Your Song (I like Al Jarreau’s version even more than Elton John’s but there is no good version of it on YouTube) and wake everybody up slowly to this. And we would set the big dining table in the living room with everything we could find and eat for HOURS.

My sister thought we were horrid teenagers, especially me. She was probably right. She moved in with her then boyfriend and took half my mum’s cooking utensils with her. Mum was none too pleased when she came home and discovered that, but I was given the blame, being so HORRID.

We also spent an inordinate amount of time at Jenny’s house, a huge villa split in two to accommodate two families, where Jenny lived in one part and Arlene, Petter and Øyvind lived in the other (people coming and going in those living arrangements too). I remember waking up on a mattress on the floor in their joint living room one morning, looking up these loooong dinner-suit-dressed legs of Petter who had just returned from an all-night party. It was around seven, and he was swaying gently while holding a tub of melted pistachio ice cream and half a bottle of wine where the cork had been smashed into the bottle since we couldn’t find the bottle opener. When he realised I was awake he sat down next to me, and together we ate melted ice cream and drank wine with cork for breakfast. It tasted crap. But the moment was wonderful.

I have no idea if I managed to get any of them to listen to Al Jarreau regularly, but everytime I hear him I am reminded of that summer. 1984.

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Spring fever

Have been having some sort of DISEASE lately. A really sneaky one which strikes every time I might have a chance to enjoy myself just a tinsy bit. Such as after an extra long day at work when, the next day, there is an opening for a lie-in and a less loaded day. That’s when it strikes. As soon as I wake up I find it sitting on my head like a heavy vulture, squeezing the right side of my face, making my eyelids swell, my tongue go dry, my stomach turn. It’s delightful. Now, having been out of bed for only a few hours, I am totally exhausted and can only think of going back to bed, but his hairy lordship needs a walk and, quite frankly, I need to be fumigated. I feel totally toxic. If only the giant wasp that has made its way into the kitchen would find me toxic too and leave. I am not an owner of heavy newspapers with which I can kill wasps, and my useless little fly-swat is only likely to result in an angry wasp attack. I. Do. Not. Like. Wasps. So I’ve given it a glass of apple juice in the hope it will fall for the temptation, fall in and drown slowly. I am all for slow drownings of wasps.

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Attacked by a cat

I am not making this up. Mischa was attacked by a cat. Vile creatures! We were peacefully walking up towards Mariahilfer Straße to the U3, using the pedestrian street coming up to Mariahilfer church, and there, between the tables outside an Italian restaurant, a white and grey cat came shooting out at him. Mischa, being used to the more friendly type of cat, tried to be, well, friendly, but the cat was having none of it. She in no way tried to hide her hatred of all things canine, hissed at him and swiped at him with some very sharp claws indeed, and Mischa backed off hastily while quite literally crying out to his mummy for HELP!! The result? The entire restaurant exploded into guffaws of laughter at this Goliath that was afraid of the small feline David.

While she still hissed, but at least sat still, Mischa tried again, wagged his tail as nicely as he could while slowly stretching his nose towards her. Not a good idea — she LEAPT! at him, and he darted away with a terrified look and a helpless howl — to further humiliating guffaws.

I swear, if I ever see that cat again I have every intention of wringing its neck. And that, my friends, is not an idle threat.

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